Most people that live in Oklahoma do not realize their dating relationship may, in fact, be a marriage for legal purposes. Common law marriage is still alive in well in Oklahoma. In fact, we are one of only a handful of states that still recognizes the doctrine.
The history of common law marriage goes back to English Christianity, however, the Supreme Court of New York first recognized the doctrine in the United States in 1809. In Oklahoma, the matter was first addressed in Reaves v. Reaves before Oklahoma was even a state.
The Court held that statutes which provided for marriage by license were merely “directory” and did not do away with common law marriage. Since that time, common law marriage has been a viable legal doctrine.
Recently, the state legislature has made several attempts to do away with common law marriage. The rationale being that common law relationships create...